Coming Out of Denial to Achieve Health – a Dietitian’s Journey

A month into following a low carbohydrate diet I came out of denial with respect to how very unhealthy I was (and had been for a very long time).  I wrote about facing the reality that I had Type 2 Diabetes for 10 years, was obese and had dangerously high blood pressure and high cholesterol. You can read about that here.

My fasting blood glucose was close to 12 mmol/l (216 mg/dl), my blood pressure ranged between Stage 1 hypertension about 50% of the time to 1/3 of the time in Stage 2 hypertension (with one hypertensive emergency that was the impetus for me beginning this “journey”), and my LDL cholesterol was higher than it should have been given my family history. The fact was I was an obese Dietitian (BMI > 30) and coming out of denial enabled me to plot my course for what I had to do to get healthy and what that needed to “look like” — how much my blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol needed to come down and how many pounds and inches around my waist I needed to lose. It seemed daunting!

So here I am coming out of denial again — just a different type of denial this time.

The cold, hard truth is that I am out of shape. Sure, I no longer get puffed out walking briskly for a few kilometers as I did at the beginning of my “journey” (as these two really short video clips testify), but my efforts at implementing slow high intensity workouts has failed miserably. While I still have relatively strong arm and leg muscles and can lift and carry heavy objects, my “core” is hit and miss — mostly miss. Our “core” are those muscles in the trunk of our body that are responsible for supporting the heavy lifting work that the muscles in our arms and legs do. When they aren’t sufficiently strong, pain and injuries occur.

Core Muscles

Over the last few months of continuing to do slow high intensity workouts (working large muscle sets until failure), I’ve suffered with sore knees and periodically a sore back, too. Since I’d had both knees operated on a number of years ago (after years of martial arts and dance) my knees bothering me really wasn’t too much of a surprise. Neither was my intermittent lower back pain as I was hit from behind in a car accident a decade ago and was in physiotherapy for many months.

I thought I was engaging my “core muscles” when I was lifting, but I wasn’t —at least not all of them. While I remembered where my ‘transverse abdominals’ were (having learned in physio) and was engaging them when lifting weights, I had completely forgotten about using my pelvic floor muscles in tandem with them, as well as the other muscles that make up my ‘core’. I wasn’t consciously aware of it, but little by little I was injuring myself; my knees, my shoulder and my back. The ‘last straw’ was me setting up a gazebo for a family BBQ at which point my back made it clear that I could not continue.  I was in terrible pain like I had not been since the car accident a decade ago and had to stop everything. I couldn’t sit for long, walk for long or stand for long so that didn’t leave much. I needed help.

After a few weeks of applying ice, rest and taking anti-inflammatories, I am now in active rehabilitation — doing many of the same exercises that I did a decade ago after my car accident. The harsh reality is there is no “quick fix” to my physical health, just like there wasn’t with my metabolic health when I began changing how I ate 18 months ago. I will need to work on this 3-4 times a week for an hour or more at a time over the next few months. But I will get healthy.

Why am I sharing this?

Because achieving health isn’t something we can always do on our own.

We can all workout on our own and make our muscles stronger, but the fact is if we aren’t working with a kinesiologist who has studied muscle physiology, then we will only be achieving partial results while putting ourselves at risk of injury. We can convince ourselves that a book or a friend or the “trainer” at the local gym can help us (and they can to a point), but they are  not kinesiologists. If we have had previous injuries or for those that have never really exercised regularly before, then we need to work with someone that can teach us how to do it safely and design a program for us to make progress without getting hurt or doing ourselves damage.

Likewise, people can buy a book or find a generic ‘diet’ on the internet to lose weight, lower blood sugar and blood pressure a few points and bring their cholesterol down, but if they have metabolic conditions and especially if they are taking medications for them, they are putting themselves at risk doing it on their own (more about that in this article). Getting nutrition advice from a book, or a friend or the “nutritionist” at the gym is not the same as working with a Registered Dietitian and/or a physician who specializes in it, and who can design a individual diet based on a person’s specific needs and supervise their progress. To put Type 2 Diabetes into remission, reverse the symptoms of high blood pressure and high cholesterol and to get off medications for these conditions takes working with a professional.

I’ve learned my ‘lesson’ the hard way but it need not have been so.

The first step for any of us is coming out of denial — in admitting how unhealthy we are and to seek the help of a healthcare professional that is qualified to help.

Perhaps you’ve never considered getting the support of a Dietitian such as myself and have questions, or maybe you are where I was at 18 months ago and feel overwhelmed with the amount of weight you have to lose and what needs to occur to get metabolically healthy.

I can help.

Please feel free to send me a note using the Contact Me form above and I will reply as soon as possible.

To your good health!


Copyright ©2018  The LCHF-Dietitian (a division of BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.) 

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the ”content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.





A Dietitian’s Journey – out of denial and approaching health

Today it’s 4 weeks since I began “practicing what I preach” when it comes to a low carb high fat diet and to be frank, the results have astounded me.  Over the last two years, I’ve been reading through the literature on this topic and while I knew that eating this way could produce significant results – I had no idea that it would be possible to see blood sugar and blood pressure come down this much in this short a time, especially given how well, and much I eat. Then there is the weight and inches lost. This is a summary of my progress to date.

Out of Denial

Part of this ‘journey’ of getting healthy myself, has been to come out of denial.

When we ‘deny’ something, we say it is untrue – but it was not as though I was deliberately deceiving myself or anyone else about my health, I was simply omitting to find out the magnitude of reality.

In psychological terms, I was in denial.

Out of Diabetes Denial

In the first entry in this journal, I mentioned how I didn’t know how high my blood sugar was because I hadn’t measured it in ages. I hadn’t had my HbA1C measured in a year and a half.  I didn’t want to know how bad it was. Despite being a Dietitian with a post graduate degree in Human Nutrition, I didn’t want to know how unhealthy I was.

In 6 months from the time that I began this journey, I want to know what my labs show. HbA1C measures the amount of glucose bound to hemoglobin (glycated hemoglobin) and since it takes 3 months for the red blood cells in our bodies to turn over, it takes that long for HbA1C to begin to reflect the dietary changes made. Having my HbA1C measured in 6 months will show my average plasma glucose level since I started eating a low carb, high healthy fat diet.

Using good scientific methodology, I should have measured my fasting blood glucose and HbA1C at baseline – before I started to change what I am doing and then measure them again in 6 months.  That way, I could calculate the magnitude of change, but I didn’t so I can only go on what I have.

I know that my blood sugar has been ~12 mmol/L because that’s what it would be this past month when I would eat more ~ 50 gm of carbs. Before I started this journey, I was eating significantly more carbs than that.  Furthermore, the previous three years, my fasting blood glucose was 7.9 mmol/L (Feb 2013), 9.1 mmol/L (Sept 2014) and 9.7 (Aug 2015). Extrapolating that data to the present date brings it pretty close to 12 mmol/L.

Out of Hypertension Denial

Without question, prior to a month ago, I would have been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) as the first week of this journey, my blood pressure was 1/3 of the time in Stage 2 Hypertension with one  hypertensive emergency (i.e. higher than Stage 3 hypertension) and 50% of the time I was in Stage 1 hypertension, with the remaining ~ 15% in pre-hypertension. The last time my GP measured my blood pressure was a year and a half ago (Aug 2015), I was straddling Stage 1 and Stage 2 hypertension.

It was a ridiculously high blood pressure of a month ago that was the impetus for me to change.  That day, I became my ‘first client’.  That day, I began practicing what I preach and as someone with insulin resistance, I began eating low carb, high healthy fat.

Out of Dyslipemia (Cholesterol) Denial

I have no idea what my lipids were when I started changing how I eat, but I know what they were for the last 3 consecutive years. My LDL  cholesterol (so-called “bad cholesterol”) was hovering around 3.00 mmol/L, with the normal range for low risk individuals being 1.50-3.39 mmol/L. However due to having Type 2 Diabetes, as well as a family history of high cholesterol, I am high risk and my LDL levels need to be â‰¤ 2.00 mmol/L.

My HDL cholesterol (so-called “good cholesterol”) was high; ranging between 1.76 mmol/L three years ago, to 1.91 mmol/L two years ago, to 2.25 mmol/L – significantly above the 1.10 mmol/L cutoff, however my GP did not consider that protective. His determination for putting someone on lipid lowering medication (statins) is based only on LDL levels. In discussion with him, I decided that I would take a dietary approach first and that this would be following a low carb high healthy fat diet. The agreement was that I would get my labs taken again in 3 months.

Out of Obesity and Overweight Denial

I knew how much I weighed a month ago, but it had been a year and a half – since August 2015 since I calculated my BMI – and more significantly, since I measured my waist circumference. Today, after a month of significant diet changes, I came out of denial with respect to my weight, and calculate my “numbers” – just as I do for my clients. After all, I am now my ‘first client’.

It turns out, I am overweight now – which means I was just in the obese category at a BMI of 30.5 (obese is a BMI > 30) when I began this journey.

No matter how I calculate it, I still need to lose at least another 30-40 pounds.

By the Scale

Based on the scale, I need to lose 29 pounds for my BMI to reach the high end of the “normal weight” category (< 25). To put myself in the mid-range of the normal weight category, I should lose another 35 pounds. 

By Fat Percentage

Based on my fat percentage, I need to lose 17% of my body weight (29. 1/2 pounds) to be at a healthy 23% (non-athlete, female). That’s another 30 pounds.

By Waist to Height Ratio

For my waist circumference (in inches) to be half my height (in inches), I need to lose 30 pounds.

How do I know?

Because all these years, I kept my leather pant belt from when I was that size and I remember well how much I weighed, then.


So how am I doing after one month eating low carb high healthy fat?

My Weight

It is now the end of the 4th week and I have lost 5 pounds.

That’s right, I didn’t lose a thing this week.  Am I upset?  Not at all, because I lost another half off my waist.

My Waist Circumference

In the first two weeks, I lost an inch off my waist, the third week, another 1/2 inch came off and today I measured my waist again – without sucking in my belly (what would that prove?!) and it is down another half inch. In total, in one month, I lost 2 inches off my waist.

Based on my Waist to Height Ratio (WHTR), I still have another 8 inches to lose off my waist – which would have seemed so discouraging a few weeks ago, except that 2 inches came off effortlessly, with me following the Meal Plan that I designed for myself.

It’s great having the skills to take my health into my own hands, knowing I am getting all the micronutrients that I need – but for those that need help getting started, there are Dietitians such as myself who can help!

During the entire 4 weeks I was never hungry (if I was, I could eat!) and I’ve been meeting my daily requirement for protein as well as Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.

Yes, my fat intake is high (~75% of calories) but most of the fat I choose to eat is monounsaturated fat, such as cold pressed olive- and avocado oil, fats in nuts and seeds, as well as omega-3 fats from fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and other fish (such as cod). Based on the reading I have been doing in the literature, I do not believe that eating this way poses any adverse health risk to me. If it did, I wouldn’t eat this way and would certainly not encourage others to do so.

Based on the literature, there is nothing inherently “bad” about eating saturated fat. Our bodies actually make it in the form of palmitic acid. I eat eggs occasionall or cheese and put a splash of cream in my coffee but when it comes to my main sources of fat, I look to cold pressed olive oil which is 65-80% monounsaturated (oleic), 7-16% saturates (palmitic) or cold pressed avocado oil which are 76% monounsaturated (oleic and palmitoleic acids), 12% polyunsaturates (linoleic and linolenic acids) and 12% saturates (palmitic and stearic acids), as well as fat from nuts (almonds, pine nuts, macadamia nuts) and seeds (pumpkin, mostly).

The only thing that is “low” in my diet is carbs, but since I am being sure to meet my micro-nutrient and protein requirements, I can see no physiological purpose for having more carbs.

My Fat Percentage

I’ve gone from ~ 41.5 % body fat to 40 % body fat in a month. Okay, I’ve a long way to go, but I am doing what I need to do, the results will come.

My Blood Sugar

I should mention that to track my blood glucose accurately, I am using two glucometers; (1) one that is a year old made by GE and using it with brand new blood glucose test strips and (2) a brand new glucometer, made by Abbott which also takes Ketone Strips, so I can track my ketone levels.

I am purposely keeping my ketones from going too high and being sure that the “numbers” (weight, waist circumference,fat %, blood glucose and blood pressure) decrease slowly and steadily. As far as those who recommend a high fat diet, I take what most would consider a conservative approach.

Ketone meter – measuring B-hydroxybutyrate
Ketone sticks – for measuring ketones in urine

As long as I kept my net carbs (carbohydrate minus fiber) reasonably low, I did very well, but above that my body could not handle the carbohydrate load. Without a doubt, I was very insulin resistant -which is no surprise, considering I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes ~ 10 years ago.

This past week, I tracked my carbs carefully (easy to do and requiring no apps) and my blood glucose continued to decrease this past week, in a linear fashion at all times of the day .

My body is doing exactly what it was designed to do; happily breaking down the fat I have stored up over the years and converting it into glucose for my blood.

This was my blood sugar last night, 2 hours after supper. 

I haven’t seen post-prandial (after-a-meal) blood glucose levels like this since I’ve been Diabetic, which is 10 years!

This was supper;

zucchini spaghetti – with meat sauce and Asiago cheese
mixed green salad with extra virgin olive oil, goat feta and pumpkin seeds

As you can see, I am hardly starving!

I used to love fruit on my salad, but have found that snap peas cut up have just the right amount of sweetness, lots of fiber and a whole lot less carbs!

Blood Pressure

I should mention that to track my blood pressure accurately, I purchased a brand new, top-of-the-line sphygmomanometer which measures my blood pressure automatically 3 times, one minute apart and takes the average. 

Week One

The first week my blood pressure was divided up between

50% Stage 1 hypertension

~30% Sage 2 Hypertension

1 hypertensive emergency (not good!)

<15% pre-hypertension


Week Two

The second week my blood pressure dropped to;

>80% Stage 1 Hypertension

<20% pre-hypertension

This can largely be explained by naturesis (kidneys getting rid of the excess salt through the urine) in response to the insulin drop.

Week Three

The third week my blood pressure was;

~85% Stage 1 Hypertension

~15% pre-hypertension

Yes, it was a tiny bit higher, but very stable, with my diastolic pressure (the second number in blood pressure) hitting normal levels several times.

Week Four

This week my blood pressure was;

~81% Stage 1 Hypertension

~19% pre-hypertension


Its getting progressively lower each week.

The last few nights, I saw “normal” blood pressure readings;

March 25 2017
March 26 2017





No, my blood pressure readings are not (yet) always normal, it has only been FOUR WEEKS! On average, my blood pressure has come down 1 mmHg / day for 4 weeks in a row.

Final Thoughts

Data is data and while not scientifically ‘objective’ data, and with a sample set of only 1, the “numbers” are convincing.

I feel well, I am eating better than I have in years. My sleep has improved significantly. My clothes fit looser and when I look in the mirror, the face that looks back is more familiar.  An added benefit is that my fingers, which have been stiff for years, are much less so.

I can’t think of any drawback to eating this way, except for the space required to have lots and lots of fresh vegetables in the house and that I am going through them at an alarming rate!  Thankfully, I have an extra fridge in the garage, so I don’t need to shop more than once a week.

Even food cost, which was a bit of a shock the first week (as I had to purchase ingredients I didn’t use before, and certainly not in that quantity) has leveled off. I spend a lot less money on milk and large amounts of cheese and a lot more on the best quality olive oil and avocado oil.  Protein quantities are about the same as before, except there is more animal protein now as I used to be mostly vegetarian. Protein sources are mainly fresh fish, chicken, and marinated flank steak. None of these are high in saturated fat, so even those of my peers that might worry about people who may be physiologically sensitive to higher saturated fat levels would not be concerned about the way I am eating.

Yes, I am eating “high fat” but 80% of it is what even the most conservative health care practitioner would admit are “healthy” fats; olive oil, avocado oil, fat in nuts and seeds and the fat naturally found in fatty fish. Studies seem to show that even those who eat a much higher saturated fat diet, suffer no adverse health issues. At the end of the day, I am meeting all my dietary needs and the only thing that is missing is the “carbs”.  So?

Unless someone can present me with a compelling reason why I need those carbs, I see no reason not to keep eating the way I am eating and teaching others who wish to do so, the same.

To our health!


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Note: I am a “sample-set of 1” – meaning that my results may or may not be like any others who follow a similar lifestyle. If you are considering eating “low carb” and are taking medication to control your blood sugar or blood pressure, please discuss it with your doctor, first.

Copyright ©2017 The LCHF-Dietitian (a division of BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.) 

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the ”content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.